Louise Liers, World War I nurse

This post, by Christina Jensen, appeared on the Iowa Women’s Archives Tumblr this summer, and has since been featured on NBC news.

On June 28th, 1914, Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip. One month later, war broke out across Europe between two alliance systems. Britain, France, Russia, and Italy comprised the Allied powers. Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire constituted the Central powers. As war raged abroad, the U.S. wrestled with the politics of neutrality and intervention. In April of 1917, President Wilson was granted a declaration of war by Congress. The United States thus officially entered the conflict alongside Allied forces. 

To mark the occasion of the World War I centennial, we’re remembering Iowa women whose lives were shaped by the war.

One such woman was Clayton-native Louise Marie Liers (1887-1983), an obstetrics nurse who enrolled in the Red Cross and served in France as an Army nurse.

Before her deployment, however, Liers was required by the American Red Cross to submit three letters “vouching for her loyalty as an American citizen.” All nurses, regardless of nationality, were similarly required to provide three non-familial references testifying to this effect. While questions of loyalty and subversion are exacerbated in any war, America’s domestic front was rife with tension driven by geography, class, and ethnicity that raised fears and stoked national debate in the years leading up to America’s engagement in the Great War.

Louise Liers's war identification. Louise Liers Papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Louise Liers’s war identification. Louise Liers Papers, Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Arriving in 1918, Liers was stationed in the French town of Nevers where she treated wounded soldiers.  During this time Liers wrote numerous letters home to her parents and brother describing her duties and conditions of life during the war.

In a letter to her brother, featured below, Liers described her journey to France from New York City, with stops in Liverpool and Southampton.

Louise Liers’s letter to her brother, describing her journey from Iowa to Base Hospital No. 14 in France. Louise Liers papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Louise Liers’s letter to her brother, describing her journey from Iowa to Base Hospital No. 14 in France. Louise Liers papers, Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

When Liers arrived in 1918, Nevers was only a few hours away from the Allied offensive line of the Western Front.  She was assigned to a camp that served patients with serious injuries and those who required long-term care.  Liers noted in a 1970 interview that, by the end of the war, as fewer patients with battle wounds arrived, her camp began to see patients with the “Asian flu,” also known as the 1918 influenza outbreak that infected 500 million people across the world by the end of the war.

In letters home, and in interviews given later, Liers described pleasant memories from her time in service, including pooling sugar rations with fellow nurses to make fudge for patients.  Nurses could apply for passes to leave camp and Liers was thus able to visit both Paris and Cannes.  In an interview Liers recalled that, serendipitously, she had requested in advance a leave-pass to travel into town for the 11th of November, 1918. To her surprise, that date turned out to be Armistice Day, and she was able to celebrate the end of the war with the citizens of Nevers.

“…devised such tortures and called it warfare…”

Along with her cheerier memories, however, Liers’s papers also describe the difficulties of caregiving during war.  She described Nevers as a town “stripped of younger people” due to the great number of deaths accrued in the four years of war.  In later interviews Liers offered many accounts of the grim surroundings medical staff worked under, from cramped and poorly equipped conditions, to unhygienic supplies, such as bandages washed by locals in nearby rivers, which she remembered as “utterly ridiculous from a sanitary standpoint…they were these awful dressings. They weren’t even sterilized, there wasn’t time.”  Due to the harsh conditions and limited resources, nurses and doctors gained practical knowledge in the field. Liers recalled frustrating battles to treat maggot-infected wounds before the nurses realized that the maggots, in fact, were sometimes the best option to keep wounds clean from infection in a field hospital.

On a grimmer note, Liers wrote to her parents the following:

“As I have told you before, the boys are wonderful- very helpful. When I see their horrible wounds or worse still their mustard gas burns or the gassed patients who will never again be able to do a whole days work- I lose every spark of sympathy for the beast who devised such tortures and called it warfare- last we were in Moulins when a train of children from the devastated districts came down-burned and gassed- and that was the most pitiful sight of all.”

By the time the “final drive” was in motion, Base Hospital No. 14 was filled with patients to nearly double capacity, and doctors and nurses had to work by candlelight or single light bulb. Liers’ wartime service and reflections suggest a range of emotions and experiences had by women thrust into a brutal war, remembered for its different methods of warfare, inventive machinery, and attacks on civilian populations.

Army nurses on parade, c. 1918. Louise Liers papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Army nurses on parade, c. 1918. Louise Liers papers, Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Liers worked in France until 1920, and her correspondence with friends and family marks the change in routine brought on by the end of the war.  With more freedom to travel, Liers and friends toured throughout France, and like countless visitors before and after, Liers describes how enchanted she became with the country, from the excitement of Paris to the rural beauty of Provence.

Following the war, Liers returned to private practice in Chicago, and later Elkader, where she was regarded as a local institution unto herself, attending over 7,000 births by 1949.  She was beloved by her local community, which gifted her a new car in 1950 as a sign of gratitude upon her retirement.

 

Want more? Visit the Iowa Women’s Archives! We’re open weekly Tuesday-Friday, 10:00am to noon and 1:00pm to 5:00pm.

A list of collections related to Iowa women and war can be found here.

Make the jump from RefWorks to EndNote with Hardin Library open workshops

As the University of Iowa moves to EndNote as its official citation management solution, we at Hardin are here to help with the transition from RefWorks (or any other tool). At this quick workshop, you will learn how to collect your citations and bibliographic data and then import it into EndNote.

Our sessions this semester:

Tuesday, October 21, 12:00-12:30pm

Tuesday, November 4, 9-9:30am

Wednesday, November 12, 2:30-3pm

Thursday, November 20, 10:30-11am

Tuesday, December 9, 9:30-10am

Register online:  http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/workshop/.

Just need a little help?  See our EndNote guide:  http://guides.lib.uiowa.edu/citingsources/HardinEndNoteDesktop .

Database of the Week: Business Monitor Online

Each week we will highlight one of the many databases we have here at the Pomerantz Business Library.

The database: Business Monitor  BusinessMonitor

Where to find it: You can find it here, and under B in the databases A-Z list.

Use it to find Country and Region specific:

  • Economic, Political Risk, &  Industry Trend Analyses
  • Industry News
  • Company Briefs
  • Industry Reports
  • Risk Ratings
  • Political Outlooks
  • SWOTs
  • Economic Outlooks & Forecasts
  • Business Environment Outlooks
  • Data & Forecasting Tools

BMI

Tips for searching:

  • Select a “Geography” or “Service” at the top
  • Use the tabs: “Daily Views”, “Reports & Strategic Content” and “Data & forecasting” to navigate
  • Use the left hand bar to further refine your search

Demos: The following demos can be viewed on YouTube:

 

Want help using Business Monitor? Contact Willow or Kim and set up an appointment.

Curriculum-Based Library Instruction Book edited by Amy Blevins published

picture of book cover Amy Blevins, Clinical Education Library at Hardin Library for the Health Sciences and adjunct faculty in the Department of Internal Medicine edited  Curriculum-Based Library Instruction: From Cultivating Faculty Relationships to Assessment.  The book is part of the Medical Librarian Association Book Series published by Rowman and Littlefield.

Chapters were also written by University of Iowa Libraries librarians Dan Gall, Jennifer DeBerg, and Kim Bloedel.

Learn How to Search for Systematic Reviews @Hardin Library this fall

In this advanced searching workshop, you will develop skills in

  • constructing subject searches
  • using advanced keyword search techniques
  • combining searches
  • saving searches
  • modifying search strategies in health science databases (like PubMed, Embase, or CINAHL)

This session may be of use to anyone is conducting a comprehensive literature review.  For those planning to publish a systematic review, consider attending The Nuts and Bolts of Systematic Reviews prior to this session.

Our next sessions:

Thursday, October 16, 11am-12pm Information Commons East, 2nd Floor

Wednesday, November 19, 10-11am Information Commons East, 2nd floor

Register online http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/workshop/ or by calling 319-335-9151.

Cambus changes and street closures Friday, October 10 due to UI Homecoming Parade

2014 Iowa Corn Monument

Cambus will be re-routing East routes on Friday afternoon-early evening because of street closures caused by the University of Iowa Homecoming parade.  All routes will run, but the busses may be off schedule due to the re-routing.

Iowa City Transit will make the following changes on Friday:

  • The bus interchange will move from Washington and Clinton streets beginning at 6 a.m. until Saturday.
  • The last Northside Shuttle of the day will depart the alternate interchange on Court Street at 2:45 p.m. The Northside Shuttle will follow its normal route.
  •  The last Southside Shuttle will depart the alternate interchange on Court Street at 3:30 p.m.
  • After the Homecoming Parade on Friday, the Night Manville Heights and Night North Dodge bus routes will continue to detour due to the closure of Clinton Street between Jefferson Street and Washington Street for the UI Homecoming Pep Rally.
  • The outbound bus stops located at the intersections of Clinton and Jefferson and at Jefferson and Linn, and the inbound bus stops located at the intersections of Market and Linn and Clinton and Jefferson, will be out of service during the UI Homecoming events. Customers who normally use these stops can catch their buses at the bus interchange at the Old Capitol Mall.

Streets downtown will be closed to vehicle traffic along the parade route and staging area which is a couple block radius of the Old Capital.  Avoid driving through downtown from 3pm-9pm Friday.

 

 

Learn Nuts and Bolts of a Systematic Review @Hardin Library

This class will provide a framework for developing a literature search for a systematic review, with a focus on health sciences.

Topics will include the following:

  • standards and criteria to consider
  • establishing a plan
  • registering a protocol
  • developing a research question
  • determining where to search
  • identifying search terms
  • reporting search strategies
  • managing references

Our sessions this Fall:

Thursday, October 9, 12:00-1pm
Thursday, November 5, 10-11am

Register online:  http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/hardin/workshop/  or by calling 319-335-9151.

We are also offering sessions on searching for systematic reviews this fall.  See our entire class list.

Database of the Week: BizMiner

Each week we will highlight one of the many databases we have here at the Pomerantz Business Library.

The database: BizMiner BizMiner

Where to find it: You can find it here, and under A in the databases A-Z list.

Use it to find:

  • US Industry Financial Reports
  • Local Industry Financial Reports
  • Micro Firm Profit-Loss Reports
  • Industry Market Reports
  • Also includes Competitive Market Analyzer

salesTips for searching:

  • Start with a keyword or NAICS search in the search bar
  • Click on “Industry” and browse by NAICS sectors
  • Once you have found your relevant industry, click into it, then choose an Industry Financial Profile for a specific region and sales class, or a Micro Firm Profit-Loss Report, Industry Market Report, or use the Competitive market Analyzer
  • Open your report as a PDF or HTML

Income_expenseWant help using BizMiner? Contact Willow or Kim and set up an appointment.